Author: Laura Mazzullo
Ever feel like you’re being watched at work?! Get the sense that everyone around you at work is observing your behavior? Do you feel that your peers, employees and leaders are aware of how you behave, what you say, and how you present yourself? Well, if you work in HR…it is likely true.
Those around you take notice. Many of your employees and leaders look to YOU to set the example. They watch the tone you set. By watching you, you subtly let them know what is acceptable, unacceptable, exemplary, or toxic. Did you know you had such an important role in HR? Whether you like it or not, you are often setting the tone of your organizational culture. You are either setting a positive example, or not. People either admire your behavior, or they don’t. You either set a positive, encouraging tone, building a fantastic corporate culture and strong employer brand. Or, you don’t.
This isn’t meant to scare you, but rather to inspire you. Do you recognize what a fantastic amount of responsibility you have? You have a very important role in an organization! The question is, are you self-reflective enough to consider where you can improve? Could you benefit from realizing that people are watching how you behave at work? Their curiosity isn’t going anywhere, so it would behoove you to do some self-reflection.
As a specialist in the placement of experienced HR professionals, I hear both the good and bad side of the internal and external perception of HR. Most HR leaders I talk to want to improve, but aren’t sure how. Let’s start here:
Your Employees/Leaders are watching you. They see you.You may already be acing all of these things, but chances are—we’re human and there is something we can do to improve. Okay, HR pros, get ready!
Here are 16 specific things that your leaders/business partners/employees/candidates NOTICE about you. I know because they tell me.
They notice when:
- Your disposition comes across as disgruntled, cranky, frazzled, overwhelmed, and disengaged. They may think: Yikes. Is this how people act here? Why are they so unhappy? This HR team is miserable! That’s not very encouraging…
- You don’t take your vacation/personal days. They may think: Wow. No one seems to take breaks here. I thought we valued work-life balance? Why aren’t they taking some time to recharge?
- You treat your own team poorly. They may think: Uh-Oh. HR doesn’t even treat their own team well, what hope do I have for my Manager? I hear the head of HR is really dismissive of her own people
- You are not being authentic/honest. They may think: Hmm, I thought we valued transparency here and HR isn’t being honest with me. They are guarded. They’re not being real. This is a huge concern to me…
- You bring unconscious bias into hiring. They may think: Wow, I thought we valued diversity and inclusion and it looks like HR isn’t doing a very good job of it with their own team…
- You keep vacancies open for months at a time. They may think: Yikes! That HR job is STILL open?! If HR doesn’t have an efficient hiring practice for their own team, what hope does our team have?!
- Gossip about others. They may think: Wow! I heard HR gossiping about coworkers the other day. This doesn’t bode well for our culture of kindness and inclusion. I didn’t know this culture tolerates gossip…
- Talk negatively about your own field of expertise. They may think: Yikes! I heard an HR pro here say “All HR pros are miserable people”. Why would they say that about their own field of expertise? Don’t we hire people who are passionate about what they do and excited about what they stand for…”
- You don’t take advantage of company perks. They may think: Well, HR never seems particularly pumped about these supposedly ‘cool’ benefits we offer. These perks must be terrible if our HR team isn’t even taking advantage of them…
- Your career doesn’t show progress internally. They may think: Wow. That HR pro has been in the same role for years. This isn’t a good sign about company career progression, succession planning or internal mobility….
- you hesitate to manage upwards or are scared of leaders. They may think: Eek! Our own HR department is scared to talk to the CFO. Why is communication so poor here, why are people scared of others?
- Don’t embody the company values/soft-skills that are shared. They may think: I was hired with the understanding that we value kindness, humility and respect. Yet, our own HR department is rude, arrogant and disrespectful…this isn’t boding well for my perception of the company!
- Don’t exercise the Golden Rule/Platinum Rule. They may think: It’s important to treat others how you’d want to be treated, or even better—how they want to be treated. Yet, I don’t see HR taking good care of their own team or each other. In fact, some of the more junior folks on the HR team have told me they don’t feel heard or valued. Not a good sign!
- You don’t partake in company offered learning/development. They may think: I don’t ever see HR attending these L&D sessions themselves. How important could they be for us to attend?
- You don’t embrace technology/social media. They may think: HR keeps preaching about how we should be posting photos/videos from company events, but I don’t ever see them on there! How come they don’t even value sharing on social media themselves? It is clearly not important…
- You aren’t smiling, energized or pleasant to others. They may think: It’s not a good sign that each time I see someone in our HR department, they look super miserable. Is this not a fun and joyful culture?
Work in HR? Please know that you are in a super important position! You have enormous power to shape, mold, nurture and guide the culture of your organization. You are the leader in this space. You have an enormous responsibility to do what’s right!
What can you do to make things better? How can you take better care of yourself, and your team?
Don’t forget, they’re watching….
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